We finally got our first set of bird feeders set up in the back yard about a month or so back. For the first couple of days, we got a few visitors: a pair of cardinals, a sparrow or two, a smattering of chickadees and a handful of blue jays. And then the pigs moved in.
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
From what I've read, White-winged Doves were until recently pretty rare in Texas north of the Rio Grand Valley region. In fact, as I have previously mentioned, they do not even appear in either of my Texas-specific birding guides. However, over the past ten years or so they have quickly moved into the Lone Star state in a big way, becoming regular visitors and even breeders in many parts of the state. And not only have they become a common sight in the Houston area, they are quickly taking over our neighborhood!
For the past four weeks, our feeders have been hosting White-winged Doves almost exclusively. And while they are beautiful birds, they are driving away all the other neighborhood birds from our yard. Within minutes of my filling the feeder, they converge on our back yard. One morning, I looked out the kitchen window and counted nineteen of them (plus one lone Mourning Dove) in our tiny little back yard, with four or five perched on the feeder and trays, a couple more on the surrounding arms, four standing sentry duty on the back fence and the rest looking for scraps on the ground directly below the feeder. And while nineteen is rare, an even dozen at a time has become fairly common. By the time they leave the yard, the feeder has usually been emptied and the cupboard is bare. (Now I know how the owners of the local "all you can eat" Chinese food restaurant feel when all the guys from our office descend on their buffet at once.)
We are currently using a seed mixture recommended by our local Wild Birds Unlimited store manager that is intended to draw in a "nice variety of clinging and perching birds." Unfortunately, the White-winged pigs are driving that nice variety away. According to the bag, the mixture consists of black oil sunflower, sunflower chips, shelled peanuts, safflower and stripe sunflower seeds.
Can anyone recommend a different seed mixture that would attract the other area birds and yet not be quite so appealing to the doves? Or offer any other suggestions that might deter them from their gorge-fest? Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated!